Understanding Others

We have talked a lot this month about seeing the good in others, what to expect out of others,  and that we have a need for others because of their differences from us. One of Jesus’ two commands from Matthew 22:39 was to love others. Loving other people can be easy to do for some people like close friends and hopefully family members, but much more difficult for those we struggle with like that rude person at work or even those family members we don’t see eye to eye with. These are the people that become a challenge and loving them is much easier to do becomes possible only through forgiveness. Let’s talk about those people keeping this in mind.

As human beings, we adapt, meaning we become adjusted to the things or people we surround ourselves with.  This is supported in Romans 12:2 where Paul writes, “Do not be conformed (adapted) to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..” Maybe you have someone in mind that is rude to you and you wonder what they could have possibly adapted to that gives them an excuse to be rude. Good point that rudeness is never really acceptable, and that is exactly why we have to get really good at forgiveness. Movies like The Shack have done a great job lately showing the root of why mean characters are mean. They are normally hiding some kind of pain themselves or they are carrying out what they were shown.  I encourage you to sit through the cheesiness (at times) of that movie and just seek the main message of it. It makes it difficult to keep our walls up and go on believing that people are just jerks. If we don’t seek out why people in our lives aren’t the kind we can easily love, wouldn’t we just be adapting as well to protect ourselves? Wouldn’t that be conforming to the easy route? What would happen if we pushed through this and became transformed by the renewing of our minds when it comes to other people? I believe In order to get there, we must first get to a place of understanding.

My family has been watching Planet Earth 2 quite a bit lately (and thoroughly enjoying the Ultra HD) and we have been fascinated with all the terrain that animals have to survive in. They have adapted perfectly to their environments as well, some really beautiful and others utterly terrifying. With this message in mind, I noticed animals do their own version of adaptation, or camouflage, and they all do it for one reason: protectionThis is exactly what people do. We camouflage ourselves with people we may not really be connected with, or act ways we don’t really want to act as a way to protect our true selves. We fear that who we really are won’t be accepted or maybe we fear facing the deepest pain inside us.

I believe we have all been in one of those positions in our lives and we can now relate to that person who moves from thing to thing like waves or even that rude person. Since we can now relate, we also welcome compassion. This is the key to forgiveness. Jesus tells us in John 13:34, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” This scripture helps us see the connection between receiving and then giving. We all understand what it’s like to feel pain or even feel like we have to hide something. Remembering that others face this issue as well helps us see that we were helped out of that place in our lives and we are equipped to help others out of their places. If we can get to a place of compassion, where we feel what others feel and we understand what leads them to whatever behavior we find difficult to love, we will find the way to love them through it.

As we go through our days encountering these challenging people, be mindful of this. Are you camouflaging yourself to avoid the hurt that their hurt brings you? Think about the ways in life you have been helped through. What kind of issues are you equipped to love people through? I would love to hear what you found out. Please leave a comment and get a discussion going.

Superstitions

The New Year is such a fun time because of the new hope and positive outlook. People challenge themselves and pick up the slack they have let loose over the previous year of not doing their best job at things like eating well or exercising. We all think “I could be a better version of myself if I just…” It’s great! It’s also full of superstitions. Like the one about not doing laundry on New Year’s Day because you will end up doing laundry for the dead. Or my favorite: what you do on New Year’s Day is what you will do all year. Fun, but all superstitions. There is another superstition that doesn’t necessarily have to do with New Year’s Day but definitely has an impact on you becoming a better version of yourself. It is the irrational belief that “people are just mean.”

Have you ever heard someone say that? “Oh people are just so mean these days.” or “she’s just hateful.” Most of the time when something like this is said it is because there was some offense. We are hurt, so we defend our hurt with more hurt. It seems like “an eye for an eye” is built into our natural instinct. When we react this way, we are seeing people through the eyes of anger rather than the eyes of forgiveness. We shouldn’t just let people walk over us, right!? Why should I allow that and how would I even go about doing that?

Jesus consolidates the only two commandments in Matthew 22:37-40, and one of those commandments is to love others. So this is something that brings life for us. It is not about letting someone walk all over you or put you down, it is about forgiving people rather than fighting. The only thing you are really laying down is your pride. In Matthew 10:39, Jesus tells us that if we cling to our own life (pride), we will lose it, and that if we give up our life for Him we will find it. Above, we talked about seeing people through anger in retaliation but that we needed to see people through forgiveness and love. How can we do that?

It starts with the understanding that people are broken. We are all hurting. The same way you are retaliating toward their rudeness, those rude people are likely retaliating to their own issues. If you keep this in mind during any altercation or issue with someone, you equip yourself with what you need to forgive them rather than attack them back. Imagine how your view of someone changes in these scenarios based on each perspective:

Anger-This service person was just rude to you on the phone…BUT YOU PAY ALL THIS MONEY AND THAT AIN’T HAPP’NIN’! You respond based on your loss.

Forgiveness-This service person was just rude to you on the phone…but people are probably yelling at them all day long. They didn’t mean anything by it. You respond based on their loss.

Love is about you, but because it is about others. You get something out of it only when you give something to it. You already know you will feel bad about yourself after you verbally rip that person a new one and that’s a good thing. That means you know nothing productive is happening in that interaction.

Tomorrow’s post will expand on this, but for today, keep this in mind as you interact with people and see what difference you see. It requires that you let a little of yourself go, and you may not get acknowledgement from that person right away, but I believe you will find a new satisfaction in it.